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How much does God love Tim Tebow? More than He loves you, obviously.


New England football fans unable to stomach watching the 8-8 Chargers and 9-7 Cardinals win home playoff games while their 11-5 Pats hit the golf course might find themselves turning this week to College Football and its endangered (if Obama has anything to say about it) championship bowl game on Thursday night, pitting Florida against Oklahoma.
College football may lack the pro game’s Wall Street-like obsession with deregulated, high-stakes trades and wanton, hand-over-fist capitalism. But the university game is far from pure. There’s the elitist, pre-rationalist, anti-meritocratic bowl-game racket, which may end up higher on the incoming President’s agenda than, say, health care. There’s also the issue of exploiting amateur athletes -- as universities, television networks, and head coaches rake in billions on the backs of fine young academic prospects who just happen to know their way around a gridiron. (See Lance Gould’s cover story this week for 20 Ways to improve sports – starting with college football.)

But for all that, in these early hours of 2009 you can sum up everything that’s wrong with college football in two words: Tim Tebow.

Simply put, the hoopla surrounding Tebow is insufferable. The 6-foot-3, 240 pound University of Florida quarterback is the game’s most high-profile player and perhaps its most talented. As a freshman he helped his team to a national championship. In 2007, as a sophomore starter, he won the Heisman and became the first college QB to pass and rush for 20 touchdowns in the same season. This year he narrowly lost the Heisman (to Oklahoma’s QB, Sam Bradford – how’s that for a grudge match?), and on Thursday he can lead the Gators to a second national championship in three years. His girlfriend has knockers the size of opposing linemen. And there is talk that Tebow may do something as rash as returning for a senior year – by which point he could very well be regarded as the greatest college football player of all time.

This is perhaps not surprising, since Tebow – as he and his family never tire of telling the television cameras – has Jesus Christ on his side.

It’s become a cliché to complain about athletes who turn the “take us through that last play when you scored the game-winning touchdown” question into a personal bro-down with God. (To hear your average athlete tell it, hard work and smart coaching are merely weak substitutes for the favor of their Supreme Being of Choice.)

And yet Tebow takes this stuff to the next level. He can’t get through a sentence without “testifying.” Accepting the Heisman last year, Tebow opened and closed his speech by thanking his Lord and savior Jesus Christ. He does the same, religiously, at every press conference. (Off the field, he’s made bizarre-world headlines for being as handy with the foreskin as he is with the pigskin.) It must be heartening for the faithful in his audience to know that while all kinds of horrible shit goes on in the world, God is taking special care to make sure Tim Tebow becomes the greatest football player ever.

The mainstream sports media, unbelievably, eats this shit up. The other day,’s Pat Forde gushed, “If you think [Tebow] hits linebackers hard on fourth-and-1, that’s nothing compared to the way he tackles his higher calling to spread the word. In this one instance, what looks too good to be true really is true.” That’s a stern reproach compared to the way ESPN’s “College Gameday” crew -- Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso – takes turns fellating Tebow on nearly every broadcast. (Fowler has called him “too good to be true.” Herbstreit: “I don’t know if you’re going to find a better guy than Tim Tebow.” Corso, not to be outdone: “I don’t know if we’ll ever find a better winner in college football and life than Tim Tebow.”) If you think it’s bad listening to broadcasters turn Brett Farve’s increasingly mundane performances into the stuff of supposed legend, then Tebow is your worst nightmare. As CBS’s Gary Danielson recently exclaimed, after Tebow completed a five-yard slant for a touchdown, “You just can’t do this stuff!”

Perhaps we’d be able to sweep all of this under the rug – chalk it up to the zeitgeist, celebrity, sports radio, etc – if it weren’t for ESPN inundating us with (and implicitly validating?) the Tebow family’s myth-making, anti-abortion message about Tebow’s “miracle birth”:

Happy watching. 

-- Rob Dixon

(Rob Dixon is a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Alabama. Some people in these parts may still remember him as the singer-guitarist in the Boston rock band Quintaine Americana.)

  • JK said:

    Life long Gator fan here. Grew up in Gainesville, got a couple degrees at UF, and would love to come back and teach there someday. But I agree with your post completely. The constant proselytizing both from and by Tim Tebow is unbearable. It has overshadowed arguably the more important player on our team, Percy Harvin, as well as other key players such as Brandons James and Spikes, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Louis Murphy, and Eric Hernandez just to name a few. When did football become a one-man sport?

    And outside of sports, I find Tebow's missionary work reprehensible. Not only because of the occasional odd story like the genital mutilation you mentioned, but missonary work in general is destroying countless unique native cultures. Aide work is one thing, dangling medicine in return for conversion is not.

    January 9, 2009 12:46 AM
  • gtr81 said:

    JK - you sound like a perfect fit for a teaching job at a liberal anti-truth, godless, earth worshiping indoctrination center known as a public university.  Oh, wait a minute, aren't you intellectual types supposed to be the most tolerant of us all?  That's right, I stand corrected, you're tolerant and all about the Constitution protecting your rights to espouse your demonized diatribe, but when the message gets under your reptilian skin, then all bets are off.  Typical brainwashed byproduct of secular humanistic and godless public education indoctrination.

    January 9, 2009 10:42 PM
  • JK said:

    Thank you for the calm and reasoned response, it is a credit to the love and humility espoused by your faith.

    January 9, 2009 11:57 PM
  • Charles said:

    JK, you are so jealous of Tebow it is pitiful! What business is it of yours to question his loyalty to his Saviour? Man, you are pathetic, to say the least!

    January 10, 2009 6:26 AM
  • JK said:

    I have no business questioning his loyalty to the so-called savior, so I will not and do not. What I do have business questioning, as a human being, is his awful behavior in participating in the subjugating of native cultures that need food, medicine and sanitation, not genital mutilation and preaching. And as a life-long Gator fan I also have business questioning the unfair and overshadowing effect the sadly populous in-your-face proselytizing has on the other equally important members of the Gator squad. But unfortunately stories about hard work and good brains don't sell to a nation where almost 50% take prideful and willful ignorance in established scientific systems such as evolution. That is what's truly pathetic.

    January 10, 2009 2:48 PM

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